Thanks to Greg Kandra over at The Deacon’s Bench (Greg is a deacon, as well as a husband and ardent mediaphile) who pointed out an profile in The Cleveland Plain Dealer of Sister Catherine Pinkerton of the Congregation of St. Joseph.  The 86-year-old sister has been chosen to pray the closing prayer on night at the Democratic convention in Denver.  It’s wonderful to have a woman religious address such an important assembly, presumably on nationwide television.  (I’d say the same no matter what party she was helping to pray: everyone could use some prayer these days.)  But you wouldn’t know it from some of the comments on the blog.  Read the article on Deacon’s Bench here, but read the often snotty comments (E.g.: Is she a sister if she doesn’t wear a habit?, I’ll bet her order doesn’t get many vocations, etc.) at your own peril. 

Deacon Kandra’s blog is always topnotch.  This comments, however, show that even the very best Catholic blogs are not immune from the kind of uncharitable comments from readers that make you wonder why so many Catholics often forget that they’re supposed to be Christian, too.

James Martin, SJ

Comments

Anonymous | 9/1/2008 - 2:24pm
Dear Editors of America, I am so happy to read your article about Sister Catherine Pinkerton. I worked with Catherine for seven years at NETWORK and am so proud to see her offfer the prayer at the Convention. Her passionate work for those who are poor and disenfranchised all over the world has been stellar. No better choice! Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ
Anonymous | 8/26/2008 - 12:22pm
Geraldine Ferraro had her constantly grinning nun on the platform with her as a perceived aid to her running for the office of vice-president. It's simmply sad to now hear of another nun being used for political purposes. Makes you understand why Denver's Archbishop Chaput is not lending himself as a "Catholic" stamp of approval to the "Abortion Party's" Denver convention.
Anonymous | 8/25/2008 - 4:02pm
I haven't read the blog but I can imagine the comments--Internet discussions seem to polarize more than enlighten. But Sr. Pinkerton is throwing away her ability to do non-partisan work on issues, which is what she became well-known for. Does she really want to go out on such an unambiguously partisan note? The situation also calls us to reflect on the fact that women religious are perceived as clergy by most people, though they are considered laypeople under Canon Law. So the rules about absolute non-partisanship for clergy do not apply in this case. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship encourages laypeople to become involved with political parties. So what is expected of religious--the detachment of clergy or the engagement of laypeople in partisan activity?
Anonymous | 9/9/2008 - 1:08am
Hi I do not know the good sister and her prayer (as only seen on youtube) was fine but her mere pressence as a Catholic who I assume is prolife in the presence of a pro abortion canidate is confusing. Are not the poorest of the poor the unborn. She did talk about the right to life as stated in our constitution. I am confused. What exactly is her stance as a Catholic on abortion?
Anonymous | 8/28/2008 - 3:41pm
As someone who works with Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, it has been difficult to read some of the comments about her in recent days. I am aware that they come from a small number of people, but the levels of meanness from those few can be disheartening. The simple truth is that at NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, where she and I work, we have spent many years reaching out to legislators from both parties. We were pleased and honored when Sr. Catherine was invited to offer a prayer at the Democratic National Convention, and we still hope that the Republicans will extend a similar invitation. We are talking about prayer, not a political speech. But what concerns me the most at this point is that, more and more, personal attacks seem to be an accepted level of discourse. I suppose there are many reasons for this, but it painful to watch someone like Sr. Catherine, who has spent many decades advocating for a kinder, more humane world, subjected to such attacks. Personal attacks only make us mad at one another. That is not the way to achieve a more humane world, where all life is respected and valued.
Anonymous | 8/28/2008 - 3:31pm
As someone who works with Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, it has been difficult to read some of the comments about her in recent days. I am aware that they come from a small number of people, but the levels of meanness from those few can be disheartening. The simple truth is that at NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, where she and I work, we have spent many years reaching out to legislators from both parties. We were pleased and honored when Sr. Catherine was invited to offer a prayer at the Democratic National Convention, and we still hope that the Republicans will extend a similar invitation. We are talking about prayer, not a political speech. But what concerns me the most at this point is that, more and more, personal attacks seem to be an accepted level of discourse. I suppose there are many reasons for this, but it painful to watch someone like Sr. Catherine, who has spent many decades advocating for a kinder, more humane world, subjected to such attacks. Personal attacks only make us mad at one another. That is not the way to achieve a more humane world, where all life is respected and valued.
Anonymous | 8/26/2008 - 8:00pm
Perhaps some of the commenters here are just as guilty of uncharitability and undue scorn as those who frequent other blogs. As all are undoubtedly aware, Catholic religious have routinely offered invocations and closing prayers at a variety of political events. Presidents of both parties have routinely been invited to participate in Red Masses (for lawyers and judges) and Blue Masses (for police and fire personnel) for many decades. Pro-life Democrat Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania will also speak at the convention, sixteen years after his father was denied that opportunity. Senator Arlen Spector (who has earned more approval from NARAL than the newly-announced Democratic candidate for Vice President) will, if he is well enough, likely ascend the stage at the GOP convention in two weeks -- the same stage from which a Jesuit will offer the invocation. There are people on either side of the aisle who have much to be ashamed of when it comes to defending innocent life. The religious who offer prayers at their invitation do not.
Anonymous | 8/26/2008 - 6:53am
Will the good sister include a petition for the unborn and one for the conversion of abortionists and their supporters?
Anonymous | 8/26/2008 - 12:50am
Fr. Martin said: Deacon Kandra's blog is always topnotch. This comments, however, show that even the very best Catholic blogs are not immune from the kind of uncharitable comments from readers that make you wonder why so many Catholics often forget that they're supposed to be Christian, too. I often find that to be true. I read a whole variety of Catholic blogs that range in ideology, some I like for pictures and history, others commentary and no matter where I go, I often find some of the most unfriendly, un-Christian-like behavior in the comments or thread replies on forums. It makes me so mad sometimes that I need to stay away. And being political season, I really think I need to curtail my Catholic Blog/Forum reading (except for here) ;-)
Anonymous | 8/25/2008 - 10:10pm
I'm so glad to hear that you are so sensitive about reading ''snotty'' comments on blogs; heaven forbid that anyone should cast aspersions on Sister Catherine's appearance at the Democratic convention, much less question the dress code or the number of vocations in her order. Only a cynic would imagine that the Democrats were desperate to find some sort of ''official Catholic'' to bless an assemblage that embraces the right to abortion as its preeminent political value, and could only come up with an 86-year-old lobbyist from Cleveland. I am sure that they would have invited Archbishop Chaput if only they could have found his phone number.
Anonymous | 8/25/2008 - 3:55pm
I am not too familiar with the Sisters of St. Joseph except for Sister Helen Prejean. I am more familiar with Jesuits and Benedictines. I went to Jesuit schools for 11 years and I am a Benedictine Oblate. I need to learn more about the Sisters of St. Joseph. Prayer lures us toward living. Prayer also lures us into the presence of God. If we are faithful to prayer, it can also lure us peacefully. I am sure Sister Catherine Pinkerton of the Congregation of St. Joseph can teach us all a great deal about prayer. I am looking forward to listening to my Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi address the Democratic Convention. PAX Michael from sunny and mild San Francisco